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CD Review

Johann Sebastian Bach

Stokowski's Transcriptions

  • Toccata and Fugue, BWV 565 (1927)
  • Chorale Preludes
  • Ich ruf' zu dir Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639 (1927)
  • Nun komm der Heiden Heiland, BWV 599 (1934)
  • Wir Glauben all' an Gott, BWV 680 (1929)
  • Selections from Book One of The Well-Tempered Clavier
  • Prelude XXIV, BWV 869 (1929)
  • Prelude VII, BWV 852 (1927)
  • Fugue II, BWV 847 (1934)
  • Chaconne from Violin Partita #2, BWV 1004 (1934)
  • Ein feste Burg (1939)
  • Transcriptions of Organ Works
  • Adagio, BWV 564 (1933)
  • "Little" Fugue, BWV 578 (1931)
  • Passacaglia and Fugue, BWV 582 (1936)
Philadelphia Orchestra/Leopold Stokowski
Naxos 8.111297 75:35

If you have the previous CD incarnation of these works (on a two-disc set from Pearl in 1994) you still have to get this and hope they issue a second volume with the rest. "The sound here (done, once again, by Mark Obert-Thorn) is nothing short of amazing." Those were my first notes as I began to compare the two. In fact, the only comparison is that the music is the same and from the same sources. What Mark has done is provide a sound that has more depth and with more air around it. Most importantly I can now hear individual instrumental details that are buried in the Pearl set. The brass is more burnished and the famous Stokowski Sound, with full, deep bass that is firm here, is captured. I am quite sure these recordings ever sounded this good before. It reminds me of a comment and a story I've told often.

Al Franz was the manager of a record shop on High Street across from Ohio State University. He had the best collection of classical LPs in Columbus, Ohio. I used to drop by Al's place years later when CDs had replaced LPs and Al was retired. He maintained that LPs sounded better than CDs and in many cases he was right. As he would put yet another LP on the turntable he'd often say, "There's more music in those grooves than most people get out." He would've loved this.

Snatch this up and hope sales might encourage Naxos to issue a second.

Copyright © 2008 by Robert Stumpf II